Art from Marvel’s Amazing Fantasy #15/ Strange Tales #110 - First appearances of Spider-Man and Doctor Strange. Art by Steve Ditko

Legendary comic creator Steve Ditko, dead at 90

Doctor Strange by Steve Ditko

I’ve woken to the sad news of comic creator Steve Ditko’s passing, one of the global comic industry’s most influential, and yet elusive artists.

The award-winning co-creator of The Amazing Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and so many more great characters was found unresponsive in his New York City apartment on 29th June 2018. Police said he had died within the previous two days. He was pronounced dead at age 90, with the cause of death initially deemed as a result of a myocardial infarction, brought on by arteriosclerotic and hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

There have already been many wonderful tributes from fellow creators and fans, so well deserved. His work had a huge impact on me when I first saw it in reprint here in the UK in the 1960s and early 70s, images seared into my young brain.

Spider-Man battles the Vulture in The Amazing Spider-Man #2. Art by Steve Ditko
Spider-Man battles the Vulture in The Amazing Spider-Man #2. Art by Steve Ditko

Marvel Masterwork Pin-Up - Doctor Strange (art by Steve Ditko)

Just one of many mind-bending comic visuals Steve Ditko created during his long career
Just one of many mind-bending comic visuals Steve Ditko created during his long career
Spider-Man battles inner demons in The Amazing Spider-Man #33. Art by Steve Ditko
Spider-Man battles inner demons in The Amazing Spider-Man #33. Art by Steve Ditko

May he rest in peace and be long remembered. This brief post includes some images that for me, reflect how memorable and unique his work was. They are not intended to capture the breadth of his work on so many characters, not just for Marvel but so many other publishers.

A Superman pin-up for Superman #400 by Steve Ditko. "Ditko seamlessly integrates the type of images that he used in his own work like Mr. A and Avenging World, iconographic conflicts between savagery and civilisation, oppression and freedom," notes the Ditko Comics Web Blog, "and combines them with a great image of Superman standing as a barrier defending free people from the forces of evil. It works perfectly, both as as Superman image and a Ditko image."
A Superman pin-up for Superman #400 by Steve Ditko. “Ditko seamlessly integrates the type of images that he used in his own work like Mr. A and Avenging World, iconographic conflicts between savagery and civilisation, oppression and freedom,” notes the Ditko Comics Web Blog, “and combines them with a great image of Superman standing as a barrier defending free people from the forces of evil. It works perfectly, both as as Superman image and a Ditko image.”

He never stopped drawing: Ditko was the original artist on Spider-Man, Dr. Strange, Captain Atom, Creepy, Dr. Haunt, Konga, Gorgo and others. His list of credits includes titles such as Beware the Creeper, Chuck Norris, The Fantastic Four, Ghostly Tales, Haunted, House of Mystery, The Incredible Hulk, Indiana Jones, Journey into Mystery, Machine Man, Magnus, The Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves, Masked Marvel, Mystery in Space, The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, Rom, Shade the Changing Man, Strange Adventures, Strange Tales, Tales to Astonish, This Magazine Is Haunted, Weird War Tales, Witzend, World’s Finest Comics and many others.

MR A #21 by Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko

After years of working for others he and Robin Snyder struck out on their own. From 1988, they continued earlier features and/or introduced a variety of new characters, concepts and publications such as Avenging World, The !?, A to Z, The Cape, Miss Eerie, The Celebrity, F-M and F-B, The Judge, The Distorter, E and I, The Hero, Villain, Force and Violence, The Jokes Going Around, Killjoy, The Outline, The P Masks, The Spoilers and one of the most original characters in the comics: Mr. A.

This image, however, is one discovered much later in life, but always makes me smile – much as did Ditko’s incredible, deservedly award-wing work.

Thank you, Steve, for bringing so much joy to this comics fan. You certainly helped make one.

A panel from From "The Joker" by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #5 (1961)
A panel from From “The Joker” by Stan Lee & Steve Ditko, Amazing Fantasy #5 (1961)

I’ve created this “Moment” on Twitter, sharing just some of the many tributes to this elusive legend, including thoughtful tributes from Neil Gaiman, Gail Simone, Jonathan Ross and more.

The latest edition of Steve Ditko and Robin Snyder’s long-running series of anthologies continues with Something Big, scheduled to be released September 2018, Something Big raised funds on Kickstarter – but its contents are secret.

Robin Snyder and Steve Ditko together published 54 books, hundreds of articles and essays, a periodical, The Four-Page Series, and the first-person history of The Comics!, now in its 28th year of publication.

All art copyright respective publishers

Steve Ditko - by Steve Ditko
Steve Ditko – by Steve Ditko

Web Links

Hollywood Reporter: Steve Ditko, Spider-Man Co-Creator and Legendary Comics Artist, Dies at 90

The Guardian: Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko dies aged 90

The Steve Ditko Comics Web Blog

The Ditko Club

Dedicated to the distribution of the books by Steve Ditko and Robin Snyder

DITKO UNLEASHED

This major Retrospective opened with this statement from Steve Ditko: “I’m a cartoonist in the comic book business, not a performer or personality in show business. When I do a job, it’s not my personality that I’m offering the readers but my art work. It’s not what I’m like that counts but what I did and how well it was done. I produce a product, a comic art story.

“Steve Ditko is the brand name. I make no mystery of what I do, and where I can properly explain why I do what I do, I’ll do it. If a person knows the what and why’s, he knows all about the ‘who’ that is important to know.”

See DITKO UNLEASHED the Exhibition through photos and video of original artworks, and Paul Gravett’s interview with curator Florentino Flórez

• Lew Stringer has posted this tribute to Steve on his Blimey! blog, noting the artist’s first reprint of his early Marvel work in British comics

Tributes to Steve Ditko on Twitter #RIPSteveDitko | #SteveDitko

 All images © respective publishers/ creators

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John Freeman

The founder of downthetubes, John works as a comics editor, writer, as Creative Consultant on the Dan Dare audio adventures for B7 Media, and on promotional work for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival. Working in British comics publishing for over 30 years, his credits include editor of titles such as Doctor Who Magazine, Star Trek Magazine and Babylon 5 Magazine. He also edited the comics anthology STRIP Magazine and edited several audio comics for ROK Comics. He has also edited several comic collections, including volumes of “Charley’s War and “Dan Dare”. He’s the writer of “Crucible”, a creator-owned project with 2000AD artist Smuzz, published on Tapastic; and “Death Duty” and “Skow Dogs” with Dave Hailwood for digital comic 100% Biodegradable.

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